Project Super Immunity Was a Failure

This winter I decided to go all out on an effort to boost my immunity so I would not get sick. It failed miserably. I had more sick days this winter than any year in the past decade with the exception of 2015.

In March I caught a cold. Then I caught a meaner version of the same cold about 3-4 weeks after fully recovering from that last one.

Here is a list of items and actions I took to boost my immunity. A few ideas I got from the comments in an earlier post.

  • Ginger supplement
  • Garlic (some fresh, some cooked)
  • Sauna use (2x  a week average)
  • Meditation (average 12-14 min daily)
  • A mushroom supplement recommended by Dr. Weil (Stamets 7)
  • pau d’arco (which is supposed to help with infections and inflammation)
  •  good sleep (8 hours most nights)
  • regular exercise (but not overdoing it)
  • sunshine (when available)
  • no drugs (including prescriptions), no alcohol, no smoking
  • a clean diet rich in fruits, veggies, tubers, whole grains, and lean protein. Low sugar as well.

My gym recovery times have been poor as well. I’m stumped. Boosting my immune system to prevent colds was the very question I began researching back in 2007 that sent this blog into a health direction. Twelve years later and I still don’t have the answer.


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Add yours

  1. Try Fermented Cod Liver Oil from Green Pasture.

  2. Fermented or rancid? The above mentioned product is controversial

  3. Ondřej Tureček

    May 6, 2019 — 3:01 pm

    Temperature appropriate clothing and washing hands properly and often helps;-) Surgical technique.
    Also don’t touch the gates of infection like eyes/mucosa after touching stuff in public etc. Keep sick people at distance if you can. Avoid crowds if possible.
    Super basic but might help more than some esoteric Himalayan mushroom totem:-)

  4. What comes to mind looking at the list above is Vitamin D, which is why I get the cod liver oil reference.

    You’re at 47 N, meaning for six months of the year the sun isn’t strong enough for your skin to produce vitamin D. I don’t see the vitamin D rich foods in your list that you would need to consume in the winter months to compensate for this.

    My experience, FWIW: I live even further north than you, 50 N. Some five years ago I had a blood test in February. Everything was fine except Vitamin D levels were way too low. I started being more methodical about consuming certain fatty foods (like herring and liver) and taking supplements in the winter months. (Cod Liver Oil is certainly an option, but the quality stuff is not cheap.) From mid-April to mid-October I ensure I get a bit of sun every few days.

    I haven’t gotten a bad cold since then. I used to get hammered by the flu once or twice a year (even got bronchitis one winter, which was pretty awful). Sometimes I get a runny nose, which lasts a day at most. For me it doesn’t even qualify as getting sick.


  5. @All – The interesting thing about Vitamin D is that the 2 years when I had the most sick days were 2007 when I was in San Diego and 2015 when I was in the SF Bay Area. Both times I was exposed to the sun for hours each day.

    This winter I consumed cases of high-quality sardines, eggs, and mushrooms.

    Also, my thinking on Vit D (which could be wrong or incomplete) has been heavily influenced by the website GettingStronger.

  6. Sacrifice a year – go hang out places where you get lots of infections (pre-schools, hospital/doctors waiting rooms, airplanes…….). Then keep exposed to low levels on a regular basis. Twenty years working in a health profession and my immune system seems pretty bullet proof. But the first year in each new environment – constant infection and nothing I could identify to alter it. Almost all my colleagues have had the same experience (as have the preschool teachers I know). Our immune systems are meant to deal with microbes – I think constant low dose exposure is the key to a good immune system – we need it to be working to build it.

  7. Meighen Russell

    May 7, 2019 — 4:40 pm

    You might find the research articles on this blog of interest:

    Best wishes.

  8. Have you ever had your Vit D levels measured? It would give you some more info about whether supplementation might be useful?

  9. I was thinking the same, and would suggest having it tested in the winter, in January or February.

  10. Have you ever tried the Wim Hof Method?

  11. @Ryan – Good question. I would divide his method into 2 groups: cold exposure and the breathing.

    1- I have a long history on this blog of cold exposure. However, I tend to do it much more in the summer. My issue has always been it takes a long time for me to warm up unless the environment is also warm.

    2- I have not yet played with the breathing. I’m not sure it is legit. The cold stuff seems more sound, but I don’t have a firm opinion on either.

  12. are your poor recovery times caused by your reduced immunity or by something else? If something else then thatd be suggestive of something more fundamental. Gut bacteria health is apparently another major factor in immunity, have you looked at that?

    Incidentally after reading your posts on muscle growth not being prompted by muscle damage but by the load placed on them during exercise, Ive changed my routine away from short exercise routines always done to failure to volume with minimal straining for the final reps, and it seems to have worked. And this is after exercising for decades, so I didn’t expect much of an impact. Those posts were useful, thanks!

  13. @matt – I suspect it is just age. Getting older is a factor. But then again, I always have seemed to take longer to heal. Perhaps genetics? It is nothing new though.

  14. Seach for neti pot. It is a way to clean the sinuses using water, salt and baking soda. Do it religiously every morning, like brushing your teeth — it is prevention, not a remedy when the the problem arises. It worked for me.

  15. @Paulo – Years ago I used the Netti pot daily. Back then I did it for sinus headaches – for which it was of no help. I don’t recall getting sick during that period. Maybe it was helpful?

  16. @MAS – I tried the shampoo method (once), but I thought it was too extreme. My neti pot is 150 ml and I disolve a little over 1/2 tsp of the purest salt, without too many additives (where I live is only coarse salt), and a little less than 1/2 tsp of baking soda in 300 ml of warm water and then I do both nostrils. Take care: do not blow the nose using too much force. The name of this game is consistency. Other important thing: it has to be done at mornings, to give time to the residual water to evaporate along the day.

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